Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Enjoying the Christmas Break

This picture I borrowed from Tumblr represents some of the food I've been enjoying in the past four days.

After what seemed to be weeks and weeks of dreadful school work and not being able to go home, I'm on Christmas break and making the most out of the it.  It's going to be my last free Christmas for a very long time; I am an MS3 after all, and it will be more than a decade before I'll be able to call when I can take a Christmas break.  I'm doing everything unrelated to academia, indulging in my favorite food, and enjoying much needed shut-eye in this beautifully cool weather.  I hope the stress of parties/shopping/traffic has not overshadowed the holiday spirit in everyone's hearts.  Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Yellow Roses

This little ray of sunshine greeted me with a cheery "Good morning!" over the weekend.

They're so lovely and happy.

They instantly banished all feelings of frustration, and the all-consuming feeling of loneliness.

Thank you =)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Slow Down, You Crazy Child

If someone prays for patience, do you think God gives them patience? Or does He give them the opportunity to be patient? If they pray for courage, does God give them courage, or does He give them opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for their family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm, fuzzy feelings? Or does He give them opportunities to love each other? - God (err, as portrayed by Morgan Freeman) in Evan Almighty

This quote first came from a college friend who was among the pillars of strength I leaned on quite heavily as I began my journey to become a physician. Adjusting to the new uni, the new culture, the new people, the new system, and the new environment presented quite a challenge and became an additional source of stress on top of worries of the expenses my mum was suddenly incurring (after eight years on government scholarships) because of the shift from the state uni to a private uni. During one of our late night convos, my friend happily shared the quote above. At the time, I think I was too distracted by my moping around that I failed to see deeper into what was said; I merely thought it was a very beautiful and heartfelt expression of all things that had to do with God and human life. The powerful message struck home tonight and I just felt that all my prayers had been answered somewhat. I had always prayed for strength, courage, understanding, wisdom, and perseverance, and got frustrated because the prayers were seemingly answered in the opposite manner. Somehow, after getting frustrated day after day, I sort of gave up and took life's 'blows' as they came. I reasoned that there was no use fighting against them anymore, and merely waited for life to stop 'picking on me' even for just once. Somehow those 'blows' that I resented immensely became the opportunities for me to become stronger, braver, more understanding, wiser, and more enduring. An added grace was that everything seemed calmer. The greatest bonus for myself was that I found myself accomplishing things easier; perhaps I became more focused instead of remaining somewhat of a crazy child. For all these, I am thankful and I hope for the best for the next few years.

P.S. Cookies and props to anyone who can name the artist and the song from which I stole the title of this entry.

P.P.S. I've always thought that God would sound like Liam Neeson. Morgan Freeman does a pretty good job too. If God was a woman, I think she'd sound like Meryl Streep. :) (To which statement, my friend replies, "Duh, Liam Neeson is Aslan; Morgan Freeman is God," and to which I reply, "Aslan is sort of like the personification of God in the Chronicles of somewhat same, non?")

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Nostalgia for Good Food

I think the complete lack of good food nowadays is making me fat. (Please allow me to make excuses, just this time.) I'm swallowing heaps of stuff that are either as bland as board, loaded with enough sugar to make my pee attractive to ants, marinated in a tub of MSG for two months, or soaked through with reused atherogenic animal fat. I'm eating and eating and eating stuff that really isn't that palatable or that delicious because my taste buds are hankering for those real, solid flavors that were introduced during childhood. It's just not the same food anymore.

Milk used to be a source of comfort. I remember one of my grand-aunts handing me a creamy glass to enjoy on a lazy afternoon and thinking to myself, they must have this milk in heaven. Throughout my childhood, I must have guzzled enough milk to fill a large lake. Nowadays, I'm starting to abhor the milk that's available everywhere, and it's a bad thing because now is the best time to get all bone-building goodness that milk provides. Commercial milk tastes nothing like the milk I had when I was a kid. Are the cows too stressed to produce good milk? Are companies trying to cut down costs by watering down their products? (Of course, it doesn't help that I developed lactose intolerance after a bad gastro bout in high school, but there really comes a time every week that milk becomes a nagging craving.) Too bad the milk nowadays tastes like liquid cardboard. Or flavored with enough artificial stuff to give me all sorts of horrible diseases or worsen pre-existing ones.

Another foodstuff that's been growing worse is bread. Bakeries seem to just lump the bleached flour, lard, yeast, water, and sugar together then serve up sad lumps of carbs. Whatever happened to warm pieces of bread, with its sweet smell wafting up with its steam? Pandesal used to be something as big as an adult man's fist and substantial enough to drive away mid-afternoon hunger pangs that couldn't be shooed away by biscuits. We used to toast pandesal to that point before it hardens and pat really good and authentic butter on the halves. It was fascinating how those golden pats of butter melt into the fragrant pandesal and add to the slightly yeasty smell of the fresh bread. The rich flavor of butter flirting with a hint of sweetness from the pandesal always put a smile on my face until the day ended. Now pandesal looks no larger than a marble, and it takes about four of these small critters to satisfy the tastebuds.

Even the honey being sold in supermarkets today is adulterated with refined sugar or caramel coloring. Sadness, sadness, sadness. I love honey on those oven biscuits I used to make or paired with a soothing cup of tea. The best honey I had was a palmful given by the generous indigenous Mangyans we visited in Romblon last year, after a challenging hike through the lush forest and up the steep mountains. The honey served as our dessert and pick-me-up after a meal of a starchy purple kamote (no, it wasn't ube), stewed gabi leaves, and freshly caught river shrimp, sweet and plump. The honey smelled something like vinegar, so I thought it was fermented and a bit like wine, but it was like drinking nectar straight from the wild flowers. It wasn't the type of sweetness that would make your teeth ache or your throat sore. It went down so smoothly and at that time, it was like some rare gift from heaven, so fragrant, so light, and so uplifting.

The paternal side of the family spoiled my tastebuds, I think. My grandmother, bless her soul, made the most spectacular dishes at home, and those dishes trump those sold in restaurants any time. Lola never failed to indulge us in our favorites every time we had gatherings in any of the homes. She'd always try to serve my favorite steamed crab when I was in high school and living away in a dorm that served otherworldly (strange/alien) creations; she had a knack for finding crab that was just plucked from the depths and had the sweetest meat to be enjoyed on its own. (I hated aligue and fished them out for other relatives to mix with their rice. I think that is partly the reason they also enjoy eating crab when I'm around. I'm selfish with crab meat, but not the aligue.) I can't trust crab anywhere else because the time I had it from some place, it tasted just like those fake crab sticks used for pretend sushi. All the other ulam we enjoyed that Lola lovingly created in her busy kitchen are unforgettable: her bola-bola (made with shrimp) and sotanghon soup, the piping hot sinigang with the gamut of vegetables and soft fatty pork in all its sour glory, the unparalleled adobo flakes that go well with fragrant grains of perfectly cooked rice, the succulent roast beef + creamy mashed potatoes + thick homemade gravy + steamed vegetables combo, the perfection that was her free-range native chicken and asparagus soup, the chunky cuts of tuna swimming lemon butter sauce, the crispiest and tastiest fried chicken minus the "lansa" because it was marinated in patis-calamansi and dropped in the hottest oil, and that kare kare that wouldn't leave that thick aftertaste of cholesterol because Lola had the beef cooked in a special way. The desserts are best left for another entry on this blog, and I'd have to say, I love my mom's baked desserts the most.

Dear heavens, I could go on and on, but I'm stopping here because I'm thinking of raiding the fridge for a late night snack, and I need to get back to reading my textbooks.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Dance Like No One's Watching

Forget your worries for four minutes and dance along.
I share this in the hope that it might take the blues away.
Smile everyone and have a happy weekend!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Stress Management Tips from the Masters

Just in case you are having a rough day, here is a stress management technique recommended in all the latest psychological tests.

The funny thing is that it works.

1. Picture yourself near a stream in the mountains.

2. Birds are softly chirping in the cool mountain air.

3. No one knows your secret place.

4. You are in total seclusion from the hectic place called the world.

5. The soothing sound of a gentle waterfall fills the air with a cascade of serenity.

6. The water is crystal clear.

7. You can easily make out the face of the person you are holding under the water.

See. You're smiling already.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Biochem Pick-up Lines

Wow. Never knew nerds could be such pervs.

If I were an enzyme, I'd be DNA helicase so I could unzip your genes.

You're so hot, you denature my proteins.

Can I be the phasor to your electron and take you to an excited state?

You must be gibberelin, because I'm experiencing some stem elongation.

You make my anoxic sediments want to increase their redox potential.

Hey baby, will a little more alcohol catalyze this reaction?

I will fondle your vesicles while you caress my golgi body.

I want to work on your leucine zipper with my zinc fingers.

You're hotter than a bunsen burner set to full power.

If I were a neurotransmitter, I would be dopamine so I could activate your reward pathway.

Hey, wanna put your alpha helix in my beta barrel?

Hey baby, why don't you get your ligase working on my okazaki fragment and lengthen my strand.

Hey, are you an alpha carbon, because you look susceptible to backside attack!

Do you want to extract some protein from my column?

According to the second law of thermodynamics, you're supposed to share your hotness with me.

Everyone knows its not the size of the vector that matters, but the way the force is delivered.

How about me and you go back to my place and form a covalent bond?

We can make a mess as I've hired some lysosomes to clean up after.

Why don't we measure the coefficient of static friction between me and you?

Please have a smooth endoplasmic reticulum but know that I like it rough, if you know what I mean.

I also prefer my ribosomes bound...tight. Spin me round with your basal body and make sure it's turgid.

Do you like aerobic respiration as much as I do?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Medical school professors always remind us students to take care of our hands; they don't care if one becomes extremely vain when it comes to hands, just as long as the hands are in the best working order.  After all, our hands are extremely important in our chosen vocation.  So yes, we wash them, (supposedly) keep them tidy at all times, and try to keep them soft and warm for the benefit of our patients; great excuse to have paraffin wax treatments and hand massages at the spa.

I almost lost the use of my hands awhile ago.  Rushing to the third floor of the school building after losing precious time returning the laptop to the faculty secretary's office, I was checking my phone for our Medicine facilitator's message when I felt my left foot miss a step.  Before I knew it, I had put two hands in front of myself and felt my knees hit the floor with a resounding thud.  I was waiting for my carpals and metacarpals to start cracking but decided against remaining in a crouching position lest more people see the accident.  A millisecond after, horrified thoughts flashed in my brain, "Oh God! Did I just break my hands? And my Med 1 practical exam (physical examination of the abdomen) is today!"  After inspecting my palms, I found some angry pressure marks at the bases of my fingers.  The pain had me slowly flexing my fingers to check if anything was indeed broken-grimacing against the dull pain, I confirmed that nothing was broken.  The next thoughts that came across my pain-dulled mind were of a less pleasant nature, "How bloody stupid can you get?  You played soccer for several years and the first tenet of falling is never to put your hands in front of you to break your fall!  You are such a primitive creature, never being able to work against human reflex!"

The physical exam practical and some errands made me forget about hands for awhile.  Now that that the adrenalin has gone, some mild pain is back.  Makes me want to pop a painkiller and see how my hands look tomorrow later in the morning.  If they're in bad shape, I need to go to the Health Service and probably have them checked for any hairline fractures or whatnot.  Wish me luck.

P.S.  It's the start of the accident prone period of the year for me again!  It's the second half of the second sem again.  Last year, I had patellar tendinitis, electrocution, and swollen eyelids + Angelina Jolie-esque lips from bug bites.  I hope this year will be kinder.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Nerdiness

Date: 13 January 2008
Time: 1315H
Location: Pathology department

Professor 1: Oh you're here!

Professor 2: How was the exam?

Professor 3: You're smiling. It must mean the exam was easy.

Moi: It was actually okay. More of the common sense type of questions, but then again I always lack common sense.

Professor 3 chuckles and leaves.

Professor 2: I'm going to ask you a question, and I'll ask you to answer me honestly. How do you find Patho?

Moi: I find it enjoyable actually, that I can correlate what's in the text with the slides I see and the pathophysiology of a case that's presented. Helps me remember, learn, and analyze, unlike other stuff that I seem to need to memorize just to pass.. It isn't too hard, perhaps even a bit underrated compared to other subjects, considering it's ten units.

Professor 2: Well analysis is better. And you have to remember all the algorithms. It takes logic; logic saves a lot of time. Of course you can't use your logic if you can't memorize too.

Professor 1: I'm illogical.

Moi: My grades tell me the same thing, doctora. I sometimes fall back on the textbook for those algorithms. I'm still trying to learn everything.

Professor 1: Oh, I never read the textbook. I remember I got a grade of 2.75 for this subject. Ooh, don't let Professor 2 hear that!

Moi: So I still am not totally hopeless, am I?

Professor 1: (shows key) I still don't have the answers to questions 1-20...I'm debating over two possible answers for number 13.

Moi: I can't believe I didn't choose giant cell tumor! Osteoclast-like cells! But the patient was a male, not a female!

Professor 1: Well, the bones were fused already.

Moi: I always get myself mixed up with these stuff. But I kind of prefer the analysis over rote memory work-I seriously suck at memorizing stuff. Sometimes, though, I thank my lucky stars my pencil lands on the correct letter when I shade the scantron.

Professor 1: Ah, I hate memorization too.

Moi: I remember in Pisay, we used to--

Professor 2: You graduated from Pisay too?

Professor 1: Yes, she's from Pisay like me.

Moi: I'm atypical, doctor.

Professor 1: If she's atypical I'm already dysplastic.

Professor 2: We'll give it a few years then. 

Moi: *chuckles nervously* (Does that mean, I'll end up as a pathologist?)

Professor 2: My daughter also graduated from Pisay, I think 1992. She went on to take molecular biology, finished and worked for awhile. Didn't like the job, quit and took Fine Arts. Finished the five-year course in three years, running for cum laude.

Moi: Wow. (*Does this mean I'm wasting my time in medicine and should go into the arts instead?*)

Professor 2: You know, Pisay produces a lot of good graduates not only well versed in the sciences and math.

Moi: Well, I remember our school plays and other extracurricular stuff.

Professor 2: Perhaps it's all in the balancing thing.

Moi: I remember we have some good writers, filmmakers, etcetera.

Professor 2: And you produce a lot of other sorts of graduates too.

Professor 1: What are you looking at me for? Hahaha, I'm so paranoid.

Moi: (glances at paper) Oh, I really trip up a lot with memory work, still have to work on that. Maybe take some brain-enhancing herbs or something, especially for tomorrow's exam.

Professor 2: Which is?

Moi: Pharmacology, doctor. *shudders at prospect of memorizing chemotherapeutic agents*

Professor 2: Ah, good luck. Memorization? Sleep early, you'll need it.

Moi: I'll gladly take that piece of advice, thank you.

Professor 1: How about osmosis?

Moi: That works for me sometimes, when I sleep on my textbook.

Professor 1: Seriously?

Professor 2: Dapat yakap mo, para dinidibdib. (demonstrates sleeping with arms crossed over imaginary book)

*fit of giggles over the silliness of the things we've been discussing*

Moi: Oh gosh. These exams are turning my brain to mush.

Professor 2: Oh, but you're just second year. You wait.